Izanami: Hidden jewel of Japanese dining in northern New Mexico
My wife and I love Izanami; we’ve eaten at this wonderful mountain restaurant several times. Izanami is a unique experience, labeled as “upscale izakaya” which is a like small-plate, pub-style with Japanese tradition located in the beautiful Ten Thousand Waves resort in the mountains above Santa Fe. This is a fun restaurant, with a bustling, energetic, and wonderful staff and small rituals—embrace the experience to enjoy the full scale of this eatery. Consider combining a visit to Izanami with a stay at Ten Thousand Waves hot springs resort and/or a visit to the on-premise spa; there is just something special about you and your partner eating at Izanami in resort kimonos after a spa treatment then returning to your Japanese-style suite. The sake and beer offerings at Izanami are interesting and varied; I highly recommend ordering a few sakes by the glass, each delivered in an over-pour tradition that’ll bring a smile to your face. My favorite sake was mutemuka, a delicious drink made from organically grown rice and super rich umami-bomb with hints of cocoa. The plate offerings are varied and interesting. TIP: don’t fail to get the pickle plate for a unique rotating collection of pickled vegetables and fruits. The nagoya tebasaki glazed drumsticks are sticky and sweet. The brussels sprouts (my favorite) are rich and delicious. The sweet corn kakiage are tasty, crunchy treats. The tori no karaage is a delicious helping of fried chicken. The shichimi fries are like spicy home fries with aioli. The grilled avocado is rich and delectable. The lamb chops are small, perfectly cooked bits of wonderfulness. The chocolate dome dessert is a decadent mix of sweets. For lunch, consider the hot stone bibimbap, a 500-degree stone bowl filled with vegetables, rice, meat, and an egg, all meant to be stirred to cook in the blazing bowl before eating—huge portion, fun serving, fantastically good. The prices here are decent, and you can tune your meal to meet your bill expectations; we could never help but order several plates and a few rounds of sake for a hefty toll but always well worth the cost. Overall, I rate Izanami as a great value for wonderful staff, fantastic food and drink offerings, and beautiful location and styling. My highest recommendation; one of the great U.S. restaurant experiences.